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What Is Chai Tea and How To Make It?

Be it summer, winter, or rain, many amongst us cannot resist the temptation of having tea, be it any season or any time of the day. There’s a common phrase that runs amidst the chai lovers - Tea is not just a beverage; it is an emotion. 

It is stated that Chai in its literal sense means tea, however, in India, it is tea made with milk. It is a staple drink of a major chunk of the Indian population.

So, read along as this article covers everything you would want to know about your favorite beverage ranging from its origin, benefits, and Chai tea recommendations.       

Firstly, let us understand about the origins of chai tea.

Chai Origins

Tea has made a journey of nearly eighteen hundred years on this planet. Based on a legend, once a king who resided in India commanded a healing spice drink to be created for Ayurvedic purposes.

Ayurveda is a traditional medicine-based practice and has a cure for numerous ailments. As the healing beverage spread through various parts of India different spices were added to the preparation based on the region or its surrounding areas.

 chai tea

You would be astonished to learn that the original chai tea did not contain Camellia Sinensis leaves. The leaves of this plant are what provide the currently known chai tea its distinguished aroma and flavor. Even milk and sugar were later added to the original drink.

The British East India Company was thriving as the tea from places such as Assam was being sold in huge numbers. Hence, the chai culture of India was majorly developed during British colonization   

Next, let us look at the components and ingredients included in the preparation of chai tea. 

Chai Tea Ingredients

The traditional chai differs from region to region and family to family. There isn’t one single recipe that is followed to prepare this beverage. However, the drink would mainly consist of the following list of ingredients.

Tea leaves

The base of the tea is usually black tea with slight exceptions. There are variations seen in the black tea leaves based on the region, however, the most common tea base is the tea leaves of Assam and Darjeeling. These have robust flavor making them a very popular choice.   


The typical Indian chai tea is mostly made with buffalo milk, but as many are accustomed to the western version pasteurized cow’s milk or dairy alternatives are also used such as soy, almond, or coconut milk.

Even yak or goat’s milk is found in the preparation of chai beverages around the world. Did you know that the usage of milk also enhances the flavor and richness of the spices added to the drink?    


Regular refined white sugar is the most widely used sweetener in the preparation of chai tea. Some health-conscious tea lovers add jaggery or unrefined cane sugar instead of white sugar. Whereas, few have even developed the taste of consuming the beverage without adding any kind of sweetener.    


The spices added in chai are optional and the choice of the spice varies from place to place. Adding spice, also called masala, makes the chai to be known as masala chai or spiced tea. Traditionally used spices in this drink are ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, or even black peppercorns.

Did you know adding spices and flavors such as vanilla, star anise, nutmeg is also a common practice? Coriander, cumin, bay leaf are some other spices added to chai around the world.

The common list of spices that are added to chai tea is as follows-

  • Ginger

Adding ginger to your chai tea gives a powerful spicy flavor and is usually preferred during the winters or monsoon. It also contains significant levels of Vitamin C and is loaded with nutrients that enhance the immunity of the body. It eases a sore throat and provides relief from symptoms of flu as well.

  • Clove

Clove is subtly sweet yet pungent with warm and woody undertones. It is packed with antiviral as well as antimicrobial properties.  

Benefits of clove in chai tea

  • Cinnamon

Cinnamon gives a sweet and woody flavor to your chai tea. It contains antioxidants and constituents that boost up your metabolism. It is also efficient in reducing menstrual cramps.  

  • Cardamom

Cardamom gives an intensely fruity and almost menthol-like flavor. It is often considered to be a slightly sweet spice that adds warmth and sweetness to the beverage. It is beneficial in digestion and even keeps away anti-inflammatory conditions.

Now, as we know about the ingredients that are utilized in preparing chai tea, next, let us look at the health benefits provided by this beverage.   

Chai Tea Benefits

The numerous spices and ingredients present in the tea provide it with multifarious health benefits. Following are the health benefits you will experience from consuming chai tea.

Tea boosts energy

  • Boosts energy

The caffeine content present in chai tea causes an energy spike post-consumption of this beverage. Did you know tea is consumed by most individuals first thing in the morning? The increase in energy provides the vigor and alertness to carry on with day-to-day activities. Chai stimulates and refreshes the system.   

  • Supports heart health

The black tea that is used to make chai tea can contribute to reducing the cholesterol levels in the blood. Also, cinnamon, a spice that is commonly added to the beverage is known to lower the levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides level by almost 30%. This indicates that your daily cup of tea is a great benefit to your cardiovascular system!

  • Reduces blood sugar level

Did you know having chai tea without adding any kind of sweetener could even lower your blood sugar levels? This is because ginger and cinnamon which are often added to chai tea can maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Cinnamon supports our health by reducing insulin resistance, making it easier for the body to utilize insulin and lower sugar levels in the blood. Even ginger is useful in lowering sugar in those suffering from type2 diabetes by almost 12%.

Benefits of Cinnamon in chai tea 

  • Provides relief from stomach ache and nausea

The ginger added to the chai tea is beneficial in providing relief from stomach aches and is known to have anti-nausea effects on the body. Did you know ginger is especially effective in lowering nausea during pregnancy?

The other common spices such as cinnamon and cloves also have abundant antimicrobial properties that safeguard your digestive system and reduce digestive issues due to bacterial infections.

  • Supports weight loss

Did you know when you prepare your tea with cow’s milk or soy milk you are nourishing the body with a good protein source? Protein being a nutrient that can lower your hunger pangs and provide the feeling of fullness can thereby help you in losing weight. 

Consumption of chai tea prevents you from overeating as well. Also, the black tea base of chai tea aids in the breakdown of fats and reduces the calories your body accumulates from foods.

Benefits of Cardamom in chai tea

  • Contains antioxidative properties and builds immunity

The black tea base as well as the spices present in it protects the body from oxidative stress. Antioxidants of the tea protect the cells and also enhance the immune system.

Cardamom which is frequently added to intensify the flavor of the tea has a high content of Vitamin C which builds immunity and aids the body to fight off common colds and bacteria.     

  • Improves brain health

A high content of antioxidants called polyphenol is found in chai tea. Polyphenol is a component that helps in eliminating free radicals in the body. Free radicals cause cell damage and are present in the environment and our surroundings.

It is even associated with chronic disorders of the brain such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease which are neurodegenerative disorders that harm the brain.

So, these were the advantages of consuming chai tea. Next, let us read about the caffeine content of chai tea.

Does Chai Tea Have Caffeine?

Caffeine is present in the Camellia Sinensis leaves that is utilized in the preparation of chai tea. Even though the consumption of caffeine is usually safe under specific limits it could become dangerous for the system when consumed in large quantities and is also stated to be habit-forming.

So, chai tea does contain caffeine but the levels aren’t as high as the caffeine present in a cup of coffee. Did you know, by reducing the steeping time of the tea leaves you could even lower the caffeine release in your beverage by almost 80%?

  A cup of chai tea

Also, in chai tea, the caffeine interacts with another component present in tea called tannin. Tannin aids in calming the nervous system and allows caffeine to be absorbed by the body in a very slow process.

Hence, chai tea helps you to be attentive and stay focused and doesn’t give rise to the jittery feelings usually caused by the high caffeine content found in coffee. 

You may need to have almost three cups of tea to equalize the caffeine content provided in one cup of coffee. However, those who face negative consequences by consumption of even a low amount of caffeine are advised not to have chai tea or to consume it only after consulting with their medical practitioner.

Now, as we know about the caffeine content present in chai tea, next, let us read for how long chai tea needs to be steeped.

How long does it take to steep chai tea?

Chai tea leaves are soaked in boiling water for close to about 5 to 10 minutes, based on how strong you want to have your beverage. The longer you steep the tea leaves, the higher the content of tannin and caffeine will be released by the tea leaves and your cup of tea will have a more robust flavor.

Talking about flavor, next let us move on to know the taste and essence of chai tea.

What Does Chai Taste Like?

Chai tea, when prepared with numerous spices, provides a blend of a different and delicious range of flavors. A spicy aroma of cinnamon and ginger awakens the senses and tastes piquant. Also, the combination of cinnamon and cloves to chai tea bestows an earthy tone to your beverage.

The sweetener added to chai tea only stimulates the robustness of the spices put into the chai blend. The milk contributes to the creamy texture and flavor of the drink. These ingredients in unison make the beverage pungently aromatic, warm, and delectable to savor.

Next, let us read about the buying and storing process of chai tea. 

Buying and Storing Chai

Purchasing the right brand and storing it properly is significant as with time the quality, as well as the taste of the tea, could deteriorate, especially when it is exposed to moisture and heat.

Teabags could be stored for almost 6 to 10 months, whereas loose tea leaves could get spoiled more quickly, the time span would vary from brand to brand.

Cinnamon chai tea bag

Purchase tin or aluminum air-tight containers to store the tea and keep these containers in a dark and cool place away from direct sunlight. Do not store it in a plastic container, as it tends to pass on the odor to the tea leaves and harm the original taste of the tea.

Did you know mixing different types of tea and storing them could also reduce its quality? Teas are mostly given grades based on their level of oxidation and hence should not be mixed, and must be kept apart from each other.

Now, let us take a look at our top recommendations for chai tea.      

Our Top Recommendations for Chai Tea

Description of Cinnamon chai

The cinnamon chai blend is a mixture of two of our favorites, one is the black tea that is low grown and the other one being the pure Ceylon cinnamon. The tea leaves are hand plucked and grown at an elevation that is between sea level and 600m.

The tea has a slightly heavy and robust taste and proffers a spicy and fresh aroma as well as flavor. Also, the color of the brew is mystically golden and compliments well with the flavor.

Ceylon cinnamon is the best of its kind and is native to Sri Lanka. It is commonly known as the ‘true cinnamon or ‘real cinnamon’. The cinnamon harvested in Sri Lanka has an enriching reputation in the markets, it is stated to possess uniqueness and high quality of aroma, flavor, and color.

Relishing this cinnamon chai would surely be a noble experience for all tea lovers.    

Description of Majestic Chai

This tea truly justifies the name majestic with its sweet, spicy Cardamom and Pure Ceylon Black tea. You can enjoy this artisan crafted tea, that is bountifully filled with the Queen of spices, any time of the day.

The tea uses the highest quality of Black tea harvested from the southwest windswept coast of Sri Lanka in the district of Ratnapura. The fragrant Cardamom comes from the central hills of Sri Lanka.

Those who have tasted this tea describe it as bold and balanced. With just the right amount of Cardamom, it will tantalize your senses without overpowering the taste of tea.

Now, as we know, the best choice of chai tea, let us have a look at the method of preparing chai tea latte.    

How To Make Chai Tea Latte?

Tea in the traditional clay cup- kulhad

To prepare a piping cup of chai tea latte, read along with the following steps.

Take a pan of water and keep it to a boil. Add your favorite black tea leaves and allow them to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. During this step, you could add the spices of your interest.

The most common ones added in chai tea latte are cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, or black peppercorns. Allow the mixture to boil at least for 3 to 5 minutes post-adding the spices to extract their complete flavor.

Next, based on the quantity of water that was added you could either add an equal amount of milk or you could reduce or increase the milk content based on how creamy you would want your chai tea latte.

Remember that the milk in the tea helps to reduce the bitterness of the black tea base, hence add milk according to your preference. 

Allow the milk to boil once, then simmer the flame for a few minutes. Then, again allow the mixture to come to a roaring boil and switch off the flame. Doing this enhances the flavor of the tea and makes it stronger, (if you wish to have a delicate flavor switch off the flame after the milk has boiled once) lastly, strain the tea leaves and there your perfect cup of chai tea latte is ready!   


About the author

Shreya Dalela

Shreya Dalela

Contributing author

Shreya loves to research and write about tea and claims Mythical Green Pure Ceylon Green Tea to be her favorite go-to beverage. She swears that her daily cup of green tea gives her a dose of morning inspiration as she sits down to type 1000s of words every day. To unwind at the end of the day, she reaches for a cup of soothing Ananda Veda Green Tea infusion. You can often find her saying 'Everything is better with a cup of tea' :)

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